This is the lull before the calm so, with no action fights upcoming, let us take a quick look back at how my pound-for-pound list finished the year. Please, no barroom fights, especially with me.
In fact, I’ve been beating myself up a bit about this list. Okay, the first couple of spots are (at least to me) fairly obvious. But I’m not sure of much after that, except maybe that there are no heavyweights who belong.
But it’s always fun to rank the fighters as if they all weighed the same. And my list, even if you don’t agree with the order, at least shows there are enough top-notch guys around to constitute a golden age. Well, bronze at least, leaving out the heavyweights.
1. Bernard Hopkins. He inherited the mantle from Roy Jones Jr. last year and solidified his place with a rather easy victory over Oscar de la Hoya. We’ll see him again Feb. 19 against Howard Eastman. Love to see him against Winky Wright or Felix Trinidad Jr.
2. Floyd Mayweather Jr. A nothing year. Fought only once (not counting bars), moving up to 140 and Chop Chopping Chop Chop Corley. Returns Jan. 22 with easy pickings against Henry Bruseles, the idea to set up a June pay-per-view encounter against Arturo Gatti. Frankly, if he behaves himself, Pretty Boy Floyd could take place in a lot better matchups such as Kostya Tszyu, Miguel Cotto, Vivian Harris, Cory Spinks and yes, even Oscar de la Hoya.
3. Felix Trinidad Jr. After 29 months off, his footwork was better than ever when he destroyed Ricardo Mayorga. Hopefully, he’ll get rematch with only man to ever beat him, Hopkins, or at least a meaningful showdown with Winky Wright. I’m not really holding my breath to see Tito against Felix Sturm.
4. Kostya Tszyu. And welcome back Kostya, too. He was off only 22 months and blasted through capable Sharmba Mitchell inside three rounds. Love to see him against winner of the March 5 Jose Luis Castillo-Diego (Chico) Morales bout or vs. Oscar at 147. Will settle for any of other top 140-pounders like Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Vivian Harris.
5. Manny Pacquiao. Gets possible chance Feb. 26 to finish what he started against brave Juan Manuel Marquez. Then Manny can move on to Marco Antonio Barrera again or Erik Morales.
6. Winky Wright. Okay, we know he can beat Sugar Shane Mosley. Let’s see him against Trinidad or de la Hoya. But pay the man.
7. Marco Antonio Barrera. Another welcome back to a guy left for shot by Pacquiao last year. The way he beat Erik Morales, wow! We’ll take a rematch with anyone this side of Junior Jones.
8. Erik Morales. Still one of the elite. He has a May 19 HBO date, but no opponent. Love to see him against Joel Casamayor. Or maybe against a two-handed Jesus Chavez.
9. Rafael Marquez. Juan Manuel’s little brother and bantamweight king who may be best puncher in boxing pound for pound. Oscar Larios at 122, maybe?
10. Juan Manuel Marquez. Now that Barrera has shown that Pacquiao is not necessarily a career-ender, the survivor of three first-round knockdowns against the Filipino wunderkind hopefully will take rematch.
11. Miguel Cotto. I know, I know. Maybe a bit premature. So he beat Randall Bailey, who was ready to chuck it in when a couple of his big right hands bounced off Cotto in the opening round. But this is an act of faith that Cotto goes a lot higher very soon. So why are they putting him in with Chop Chop next?
12. Cory Spinks. He slipped from top 10 only because others came back. Should be a deserving favorite in Feb. 5 rematch with talented Zab Judah.
13. Jose Luis Castillo. I think he beat Casamayor a lot more convincingly than did Corrales. At least they settle things March 5.
14. Diego (Chico) Corrales. See above. He’ll probably be the chalk off victories in 2004 against Casamayor and Acelino Freitas. Don’t make a big deal of my putting Castillo ahead of him. This is a fight where I’ll probably change my mind more often than my collar.
15. Glen Johnson. No, as he says, he’s not the best. He just fights the best. And lately he’s been beating them, too.
16. A bunch of guys, starting with Sugar Shane Mosley, Antonio Tarver, Oscar de la Hoya, Joel Casamayor, Vivian Harris and (not including any heavyweights) James Toney.